Intel's Perlmutter eyes thinner laptops for Haswell chips

The Intel executive showed a mockup of the machine he wants his engineers to make

The man responsible for Intel's mobile computing platforms says he is pushing the company's engineers to squeeze Intel's next-generation Haswell chip into laptops even thinner than those available today.

Delivering the opening speech of the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco on Tuesday, Dadi Perlmutter said he's asked his team to come up with a working concept of a laptop less than a centimeter thick.

"I've been challenging the team to go figure it out," he said while holding a mockup of just such a laptop. "This is a concept platform, this is not a real platform, but this is how thin I would like it to be, and I would like to fit a Haswell into it." (See video of Perlmutter with the mockup on YouTube.)

Perlmutter didn't put any specific figures on the laptop size, but a later look at the model revealed the main body is less than the height of two USB sockets. When closed it appeared to be about 1.5 centimeters, or a little thinner than Apple's MacBook Air.

The mockup had a hinge between the base and display that allowed it to bend back upon itself in much the same way Lenovo's Yoga laptop does.

Haswell is Intel's code name for the fourth generation of its Core architecture. The chip will supersede the current third-generation chips, which are also known by the code name Ivy Bridge, and is expected to be available some time in 2013.

Getting high-performance chips into thin laptops can be a challenge for engineers because of the heat generated by the chips. Laptops need to efficiently remove heat from the processor and often use elaborate heatsinks to funnel it away from the heart of the laptop. But heat engineering and managing airflow gets more difficult when there is less space available inside the computer.

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

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